Wudaoying Hutong, the next Nanluoguxiang?

Nanluoguxiang in Dongcheng District of Beijing is now known as a culture district, promoted by the district government as a showcase for heritage conservation and tourist attraction. While many hutongs in Beijing’s inner city areas have disappeared due to demolition and reconstruction-oriented urban renewal strategies, some hutongs have been selectively experiencing revalorisation through upgrading (if interested in this topic, see my paper, ‘Urban Conservation and Revalorisation of Dilapidated Historic Quarters: the case of Nanluoguxiang in Beijing’). Nanluoguxiang has been one best example, with its heavy concentration of traditional Beijing residential dwellings known as hutong and its long history that goes back to the 13th century.

This time in Beijing, I came to notice a newspaper article that talks about the rise of Wudaoying Hutong as the next Nanluoguxiang. The hutong is located west of the Lama Temple (Yonghegong), and I’d assume the area is also part of the designated heritage conservation area. The hutong connects Yonghegong with Andingmen, and is a relatively quiet place. I took a walk along the hutong, and it does experience some infiltration of commercial/cultural activities, which would probably resemble the early phase of Nanluoguxiang.

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2010-08-26

 

Interestingly, there were posters here and there as seen below, announcing a cultural festival starting on the 27th August, which I had to miss. From a discussion with a young restauranteur, the festival is a joint collaboration betw

een sohu.com and the Wudaoying Chamber of Commerce (the chairperson of this chamber is one of the residents there). Again, this organisational structure and the marketing strategy resemble what took place in Nanluoguxiang several years ago.*

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So far, gradual upgrading and selective demolition and reconstruction of individual buildings seem to be the norm of renewal in this neighbourhood. It is yet to see whether or not this place would experience Qianmen-style wholelsale demolition and reconstruction known as ‘fake-over’ (a term used by Beijing-based English newspaper The Global Times). There is a worrying sign however. The temple-side entry point is already experiencing a similar ‘fake-over’, and it may always be possible that this will extend beyond this point. This is a place that I would definitely come back and pay attention to in the next few years.itiated by the local district government. So, it was not that bottom-up after all…


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* Added on 7 September: I had a meeting with the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center, and was informed that the festival was actually organised in a top-down manner, initiated by the local district government. So, it was not that bottom-up after all…

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